Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Paul Bulcke: Legal or Moral? Hmmm. Sounds Familiar!

"...While Villar maintained that he did not commit a crime, the party-list representative said the charge was not about legalities, but about ethics, which may not necessarily pertain to a criminal offense.

"...He should face such cases. I share the view that if you want to be President, you should act responsibly and show leadership,' he added.

--excerpt from the Philippine Daily Inquirer Article, 'Villar should face music, says worried Ocampo'

"...We can translate this as follows: 'The noble man places honor before self-interest; the lowly man puts self-interest before honor.'

".. Their moral content remains the same: They prove that the highest official of the land violated public morality. He placed his own self-interest ahead of the public good.

--excerpt from the Philippine Daily Inquirer Article, Adulterer, yes; plunderer, no

"...Nestlé believes that, as a general rule, legislation is the most effective safeguard of responsible conduct, although in certain areas, additional guidance to staff in the form of voluntary business principles is beneficial in order to ensure that the highest standards are met throughout the organisation

--excerpt from the Nestle Corporate Business Principles

I loved the last article when I said, 'Hmmm. Sounds Familiar,' simply because the line captures quite clearly the sheer absurdity of what certain legal (un)minds think.

I am by no means a lawyer and cannot presume to tell what is correct or what is not from a legal perspective. I do know, however, that the underlying foundation for everything legal is the Moral and the Ethical. However, as in the excerpts above, there ought to be some sort of higher standard. Problems arise as most guilty people have the tendency to equate morality, not quite so subtly if I may add, to legality, most especially if there is some perceived clever (or even not so clever) escape. Cleverness, however, will never replace Clarity.

Let's veer away from the examples above and let's just examine two examples of why Morality shouldn't be reduce to Law. (Sorry, lawyers, sue me if you want!) Firstly, let's take a look at abortion in the 1st world countries. Indeed, it is the Pro-choice versus Pro-life arguments which is a very explosive topic from Roe vs Wade until now. For me, the answer is simple. While abortion may be legal in some US States and some countries, it is to me, the murder of an innocent human being. Legal, yes. Moral, a resounding no!
Secondly, let's take a look at a somewhat perceived to be less controversial issue than abortion - whaling. There is an international moratorium on commercial whaling managed by the International Whaling Commission to stop the dwindling population. However, countries such Norway, Iceland and Japan say that it is legal to do commercial whaling! Funnily, these countries have a pretty substantial industry devoted to the hunting of these creatures. Strictly following the moratorium will obviously result in heavy economic losses to their industries. The higher standard is to simply respect the environment but what is legal is that the countries CAN whale hunt. Tsk, tsk.

I cannot say if Mr. Villar is guilty or not but as long he continues to be clever and not directly confront his peers and the people, I will always have doubts.

As for Nestle, the answer should already be obvious as it is contained in their own principles. Sadly, the clowns who brought all this shit to you are the ones covering their asses with either silence or cleverness. Perhaps it is time for the international body to step in and give the higher standard to their managers who are obviously bereft of it in their attempts to sweep their mistakes under the rug.

Remember, clarity will always prevail over cleverness. And moral versus legal? You be the judge.

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